At AUSA, JrockRevolution.com had an opportunity to talk with QUAFF.
Before we begin, please introduce yourselves for the readers that may not be familiar with you and your roles in the band?
Seiya: I’m Seiya, on Vocals
Ukisemi: I’m Ukisemi, on MC
Makito: I’m Makito, on Guitar
Takuma: I’m Takuma, on Guitar
Shingo: I’m Shingo, on Bass and Flute
HAL: I’m Haruhiko on Drums
How are you enjoying your time in Virginia? Have you experienced anything here that you didn’t during your last visit to the U.S.?
Makito: We’re having lots of fun! This is the biggest show we’ve played in the US, even with all our previous tours, so we’re really excited! Also, the view up here is amazing… **points out the window**
Have you been enjoying the local cuisine? What have you been eating while you’re here?
Makito: Mama-san has been making us pancakes and hamburgers!
Shingo: On our first night here, we went to a Japanese restaurant. It was like seeing a new side of Japanese culture from an American perspective. Even though the food was definitely Japanese, it tasted different!
Since you’ve been to the United States before, what are some differences that you notice between American audiences and Japanese audiences?
Makito: At home, audiences are familiar with the culture, but here the audiences are in the moment. American fans express their true emotions: what’s fun is fun. Our onstage performance directly reaches the audience, and is sent back to us as a multitude of cheers. That’s really wonderful.
Speaking of cultural differences, let’s talk about your band’s concept, “Samurai Rock”. Can you describe how this concept came to be representing the band musically and visually?
Quaff: Well, as Japanese citizens, it’s true that Japanese tradition runs in our veins, but at the same time there is the American perspective of Japan, anime and visual kei. As Japanese people, we’ve discovered something new. By mixing our Japanese spirit, love, and passion with American music and culture we believe we can create a more international sound.
Makito: Actually traditional Japanese music and American Blues have many similarities. If you take some elements out of each, you’re left with basically the same thing.
Another factor in your band’s concept is the use of both sung melody and rap parts. Do you have to practice the vocals separately to get the synchronization correct?
Seiya: It’s absolutely essential for each individual member to practice individually, but when we rehearse as a band, we have to practice for our full band ensembles and concerts, so we usually play together. When we get together and play, we treat it as though it is a live situation.
Makito, [Yes?] You recently mentioned on the band’s MySpace that you wanted to be an astronomer when you were growing up. How about everyone else? When you were kids did you want to be something besides a musician?
Seiya: A doctor
Ukisemi: It’s been so many thousands of years; I can’t remember my childhood very well! I’m not human you know.
Takuma: A Chef
Shingo: A graphic designer
HAL: A race car driver
What influenced that decision?
Seiya: I got the idea after reading Noguchi Hideyo’s autobiography.
Makito: I became interested in the stars after being abducted by aliens.
Takuma: I’ve always loved cooking since I was little.
Shingo: I used to love drawing, but I can’t do it anymore [laugh]
HAL: After I saw F1 on TV.
If you weren’t going to be musicians, would you be what you wanted to be when you were children? Or would you be something else?
Seiya: Probably something else.
Makito: I think I would have reached my dream; I don’t compromise when it comes to what I love.
Takuma: I think I would have stuck with my dream.
Shingo: I’m never satisfied if I do nothing, so I do Web Design. I reached my dream!
HAL: Neither. I believe it was destiny that I became a musician.
Do you all take part in the writing of the music? What are some things that influence you when you’re writing?
Quaff: Makito writes our songs. We have a new song called, “BOOTS & JOKER” and that was sort of put together by everyone in the studio, instead of by Makito at his house. We all do the lyrics together so we can polish the sensibility, though.
Makito: Mainly, I am the writer. I used to be inspired by movies and things like that, but now I mainly try to write when I’m happy!
Do any of you have a hand in the art direction of the band?
Shingo: Mainly I am the designer, since I wanted to be a designer when I was growing up, however Ukisemi likes to make things, and Seiya helps as well. Occasionally we also call in a professional designer. The triangular logo with marks in the middle that all our American fans are familiar with was done by a graphic designer we know.
What was the theme for your latest release, “Shake your Booty”?
Ukisemi: it’s ultimately an energetic and positive composition. I think you’ll see smiles in every song. We got the energy to make all the music on the album from our happy memories and the smiles of our audiences in our 2008 US tour.
The release prior to “Shake your Booty” was “Dragon’s Fire” which commemorated the world rock tour in 2008. What was involved in the selection process for the songs on the album, since it was the first of your albums to be available to American audiences?
Makito: We picked the songs that American audiences would enjoy most. Of course, we also compiled songs that would give us a push forward as Quaff.
How does your music influence your visual style and performance? Or vice versa?
Quaff: This really varies depending on the song. You might have to look inside Makito’s head to get the answer.
What do you want your fans to feel when they listen to your music? How about during a live?
Seiya: We’d like them to feel a positive energy, overflowing with love and happiness. It would be the same for lives.
What are some things that you’d like to experiment with in the future as far as your music is concerned?
Quaff: We’d like to represent a lot of different music in Quaff’s sound. Actually, there are lots of things we’d like to do, but have to hold back on.
Can you tell us about your upcoming projects such as new releases, upcoming tours, etc?
Shingo: Well in the near future we’re working toward participating in the 2010 South by South West. Of course, we also want to go to lots of other states in America, and we want to go on a world tour. We plan to make more specific announcements in the new year.
In August you re-recorded songs for the ZONE-00 Image Album. What type of experience was this for you? Did you change the songs from before or were they the same?
Quaff: Working in collaboration with other artists in other genres was extremely motivational for us. Even though our methods of expression vary, there are still lots of ideas that get through. Quaff’s “Destiny-00” was made with the image of “ZONE-00” in mind. We also re-recorded songs from our older albums, “hikari to kage” and “banri ni chiru hana,” but the songs really evolved. Whenever we perform our older songs, we never play them just as they are. We aren’t satisfied unless we make them evolve.
Since you have recorded songs for a manga and you are performing at this anime convention, are you fans of anime and manga? If so, what are some of your personal favorites?
Ukisemi: Ghost in the Shell
Takuma: Dragonball **does Kamehameha move**
Shingo: I love “Akira,” and “Animatrix.”
HAL: One Piece
If you could create your own manga or anime, what would it be about? Would you be characters in it? What type of character would you be?
Seiya: A hero of justice
Ukisemi: A cyberpunk story. I’d be cast as an android.
Makito: Conceptualized around ancient ruins, my story would be about a highly advanced civilization set in our distant past. It would be a story about the birth of human kind.
Takuma: I think I’d like to have a gag story. I’d like to be an assassin with a sniper rifle.
Shingo: It would probably be a horror story. [laugh] If I appeared it would probably be as a zombie. [laugh]
HAL: I’d make a story that has modern day things in a period setting. I’d want to be the general!
Have you ever had anything go wrong during a tour or concert that you look back on and laugh about?
Quaff: All our American tours are memorable. It was an unfamiliar land, so lots of things happened, but… Looking back, they were really wonderful times. Of course, we still think of them, even now.
If you could collaborate with any other artist in the world, who would you want to collaborate with?
Seiya: Jimmy Hendricks
Ukisemi: AKIHIRO MIWA
Makito: David Coverdale
Shingo: He’s gone now, but MJ!
HAL: Billy Jean
Last but not least I’d like to open this up a bit. Is there anything that you’d like to say to your fans around the world? A message from each of you?
Seiya: I LOVE YOU BABY!
Ukisemi: If you believe, your wish will come true!
Makito: Everyone, please support Quaff with your love and passion!
Takuma: May the force be with you
Shingo: We want to continue broadcasting Quaff’s music to various people. We’ll send our love and power!
HAL: Please listen to Quaff, watch us on stage, and spend every day with a smile on your face!
Interview by: Zeera
Edited by: Ali W.
Photos appear courtesy of QUAFF. For more information, please visit:
Official MySpace: Quaff Japan